Sunday, April 18, 2010


A group of trees that are part of the larger Cashew family ( Anacardiacae ); the Pistacio prefer full sun and fertile well drained soils. They can be propagated from seed or cuttings. Seeds should be presoaked for 4 days in warm water before planting.

Pistacia atlantica ( Atlas Mastic )
Native from the Canary Islands, through the Mediterranean to the Caucasus to Pakistan; this is a fast growing, dense canopied, medium sized, spreading tree to 25 feet on average. Some records include: largest recorded - 70 x 65 feet with a trunk diameter of 6.5 feet. It was once a common tree in northern Africa outside the Sahara Desert where deforestation has wrecked the native ecosystems. It also formed extensive forests in mountainous parts of the Middle East until a few centuries ago.
This tree has pinnate foliage composed of 7 to 11 oblong leaflets up to 4 x 0.7 inches in size. The foliage turns to bronze and lasts late into the fall.
The small flowers are borne in panicles and on female trees these are later replaced by blue fruits.
The furrowed bark is light gray.
This drought tolerant tree is hardy from zones 6b to 10.

* historic archive photo

Pistacia badghysi
A tree native to southern Turkmenistan where it is endangered.
Likely closely related to Pistacia vera; little is known about it.

Pistacia chinensis ( Chinese Pistacio )

This Chinese native makes for a spectacular lawn or street tree. It is not bothered by pests or diseases and grows fast up to 5 feet in a year, 13 feet in 2 years or 20 feet in 5 years on favorable sites. The Chinese Pistacio can reach 60 x 17 feet in 20 years and trees up to 90 x 140 feet with massive domed canopies and trunk diameters of 6 feet are known though on average sites the above sizes are generally halved.
Very old trees up to 300 years of age are found on temple grounds in China.
The leaves are pinnate and up to 16 inches in length, They are composed of 10 to 12 leaflets up to 4 x 0.8 inches each. The terminal leaflet is usually absent. In late autumn the glossy deep green foliage turns shades of orange and scarlet. One of the best of all landscape trees for fall color, the Chinese Pistacio colors intensely even in mild climates.
The tiny flowers are born in inconspicuous reddish panicles in summer and are followed by 1.3 inch bluish berries borne in loose hanging clusters in June. This is not the edible Pistacio however this tree should NOT be ignored!
The twigs are stout with rounded buds.
The gray bark is furrowed into a checker pattern.
The Chinese Pistacio is a deep rooted, very drought and heat tolerant tree for well drained rich soil in full sun. Its seeds should be pre-soaked for 4 days before sowing. The root system is deep and not invasive making this an excellent tree for growing a shade garden beneath. Not often attacked by pests and diseases; this hardy landscape tree can be grown from zones 5 to 10 and with using seed from the northern reaches of its native range in China there is the possibility of extending this trees range as far north as zone 4. This is one of the very few trees that give excellent fall color in the desert southwest.

* historic archive photo

* photo of unknown source on internet

* photo taken on Feb 2009 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.

* photos taken on April 18 2010 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.

* photos taken on May 1 2010 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.

* photos taken on July 17 2010 @ Morris Arboretum, Philly, PA

* photos taken on May 27 2017 @ Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, Vienna, VA

'Sarah's Favorite'
Intense red fall color.

* photo taken on Oct 15 2017 in Elkridge, MD

Pistacia integerrima
Also called Pistacia chinensis var integerrima. A spreading, medium-sized tree, reaching a maximum height of 82 feet with a trunk diameter of 3.8 feet, that is native to mountains in northern Pakistan to eastern Afghanistan. It is very similar in appearance to Pistacia chinensis.
The leaves are pinnate and up to 10 inches in length, They are composed of 7 to 9 lance-shaped leaflets up to 5 x 1.3 inches in size. The terminal leaflet is usually absent. The foliage is bright red at first, quickly turning to glossy mid-green above, bright green below.
Drought tolerant, it requires an average yearly rainfall exceeding 16 inches. It is not prone to insect pests or disease.

* historic archive photo

Pistacia lentiscus ( Mastic Tree )
An aromatic, rounded, evergreen tree native to Portugal & the Mediterranean region. It is moderate growing to usually less than 20 feet however on ideal sites it has been recorded as large as 70 x 30 feet with a trunk diameter of 5 feet.
The pinnate leaves, up to 4 inches in length, are composed of 4 to 14 oblanceolate leaflets up to 2 x 0.6 inches in size. The leathery foliage is glossy deep green.
The yellowish, axilliary, dense flower panicles, up to 2 inches in length, are borne during mid-spring. The individual flowers are tiny.
They are followed by small, rounded, black ( red at first ) berries, up to 0.2 inches wide, on the female tree only.
Hardy from zones 8 to 11, this tree is extremely heat and drought tolerant.
Varnishes and adhesives are often made from the "Mastis" which is obtained from the sap of this tree.

* excellent photo link found on internet

Pistacia 'Red Push' ( Red Push Pistacia )
A hybrid between Pistacia atlantica & P. integerrima; forming a fast growing, long-lived, strong-wooded, very dense, rounded to broad-spreading, deciduous tree reaching up to 50 x 50 feet in size. A rare but first rate ornamental tree for parks and lawns.
The pinnate leaves, up to 16 inches in length, are composed of 10 to 16 leaflets. The foliage is bright red at first, turning to glossy deep green. The foliage then turns from orange to deep red over a long period during late autumn.
It does not bear nuts.
Hardy zones 6 to 10 ( tolerating as low as -20 F ) and is extremely heat and drought tolerant. Resistant to verticillium wilt.

Pistacia terebinthus ( Cyprus Turpentine )

Native to a wide area around the Mediterranean Sea, this is a fast growing, dense, and shapely rounded tree to 33 x 20 feet in size. This plant carries a strong resinous fragrance.
The pinnate leaves, up to 8 inches in length, are composed of 5 to 11 oval to oblong leaflets, up to 3.5 x 1.3 ( rarely over 2.5 ) inches in size. The leathery foliage is glossy deep green.
The greenish flowers appear with the new foliage in mid-spring. They are borne on heads up to 6 inches in length.
They are followed by berries, up to 0.3 x 0.3 inches in size, that are pinkish-red at first, turning to purplish-brown. The fissured bark is grayish-brown. The stems are gray.

* excellent photo link found on internet

Pistacia texana ( Texas Pistacio )
An evergreen to semi-evergreen and often multi-trunked tree reaching around 30 feet that is native from central Texas into northern Mexico where rare. Some records include: largest on record - 40 x 27 feet with a trunk diameter of 11 inches.
The pinnate leaves, up to 3 inches in length are composed of 9 to 19 oval, blunt tipped leaflets up to 0.7 inches in length.
The fruits are small nuts up to 0.25 inches that are red at first turning to black. They are borne in small clusters.
Hardy zones 8 to 10. Tolerant of limestone soils.

Pistacio vera ( Pistacio Nut )
Native to western Asia; this tree is widely cultivated in abundance for it's nuts around the Mediterranean region. Pistacio forests once grew across northern Afghanistan which unfortunately has now become 70 % deforested. In fact, now Afghanistan currently has just a dismal 1.6 % forest cover nationwide. The Pistacio is now naturalized locally in Spain, southern France and Greece. Pistacio Nut is a moderate growing, dense, rounded, medium-size tree typically reaching 20 to 30 feet. Some records include: growth rate - 2 feet ( possibly more ) ; largest on record - 46 x 80 feet with a trunk diameter of 4.1 feet. A 45 foot tree grows at Kew, England though it is not generally grown elsewhere in England nor does it produce any crop there.
The pinnate foliage is up to 8 inches in length with 2 to 10 ( typically 3 ) oblong leaflets up to 5 x 2.5 ( rarely over 3.5 ) inches. The foliage is glossy green above and duller below and turns to gold and red in fall.
The greenish flowers are borne on clusters, up to 4 inches in length, during mid-spring.
This is the Pistacio nut that is sold in food markets around the world. The oval nuts, up to 0.7 inches long, are borne in clusters.
Significant harvest can be reached as early as 7 years. Heavy crops tend to occur only every other year and are up to about 50 pounds of fruit. The nuts are rich in Vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, fiber and phytosterols which lower cholestrol.
The rough bark is ridged & gray-brown.
. Hardy from zone 8 to 10 ( tolerating as low as 10 F though seed source originating in central Asia may be much more hardy ). Nut production is best in areas with long hot summers with low humidity.

* historic archive photo

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